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Vuelta a Espana 2018 Stage 12: Alexander Geniez wins from the day's breakaway

Sam Challis
6 Sep 2018

Simon Yates cedes the red jersey to a breakaway rider, Cofidis' Jesus Herrada

Alexander Geniez prevails from a select group that accelerated off the day's original breakaway with 20km to go. He rode strongly over the rolling final kilometres and outpowered his fellow breakaway companions near the line to take Stage 12 of the 2018 Vuelta a Espana.

Despite not being billed as such, Stage 12 turned into a hard day out for peloton - lumpy terrain and fast speeds combined with gusting winds and rain as the Vuelta wound up from Mondonedo to Faro de Estaca de Bares in the Iberian Peninsula.

A large break formed early on the first categorized climb of the day and built a considerable lead over the peloton, which was policed by red jersey wearer Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team. 

With the team seemingly content to maintain a big disadvantage and temporarily cede the red jersey to a breakaway participant, Cofidis' Jesus Herrada, it became a question of who had the legs from the day's break.

As the end of the stage neared the 18-strong lead group fractured thanks to some aggressive riding and Alexander Geniez emerged as the winner from a small group of riders with some canny racing going into the final few kilometres.

La Vuelta a Espana 2018 Stage 12: How it happened

A quick glance at the overview for today's stage suggested it should have been a day for the sprinters but the route profile didn't tell the whole story - Stage 12's 181km took in 3250m of elevation and its exposed route put the peloton at risk of crosswinds, making a breakaway just as likely to succeed as a bunch sprint.

The sprawling route stretched up from Mondonedo to Faro de Estaca de Bares, the northernmost point in the Iberian peninsula and the first of two categorized climbs came after just 5km of the official race start.

It looked to be a perfect springboard for the day's break and 18 riders duly took the opportunity, which included Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Alexandre Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin).

The peloton was content to let the break drift into the distance and over the next 80km, the group built a lead over peloton of around 10 minutes. As a result of the huge buffer, several riders moved significantly up the virtual classification, with Cofidis' Jesus Herrada taking the virtual race lead by a whopping 4:30 at one point.

Mitchelton-Scott's Alex Edmundson did a lot of work on the front of the peloton to manage the gap and maintain that 10-minute disadvantage, with Simon Yates seemingly content to cede the red jersey if necessary.

The second classified climb up to San Pedro served as the stimulus for the break to start to fracture, with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) riding aggressively to put the group under pressure.

However, aside from losing two members to mechanical issues, the group managed to stay intact as they got to within 30km of the end of the stage. Thanks to the aggressive riding the break's lead stretched to over 11 minutes.

10km later and it was a different story: Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal), Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida) and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) forced a meaningful fracture in the group and the quartet were quickly joined by Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky), Dylan Teuns (BMC), Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step) Alexander Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale).

The 8 riders opened a gap of a minute over the rest of the original breakaway and it seemed increasingly certain the winner would emerge from this select group.

The group worked together just long enough to build an unassailable lead over the remainder of the original break before it became every man for himself and mini-attacks came thick and fast.

It had the effect of thinning the lead group further. 6 riders sprinted in the final kilometre with Alexander Geniez prevailing after a whole day of racing very aggressively.

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